The South African Medical Association (SAMA) says the 16 Days of Activism campaign must be a priority in the country in the same way the fight against HIV and Aids is.
"Violence against women and children is a scourge in our country that needs to be decisively dealt with. We need to tackle this with the same vigour we used when dealing with HIV and Aids. The gains we made in that fight prove we have the ability to deal with difficult problems decisively," SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said.
Coetzee said strong multi-sectoral intervention is needed to curb the problem of violence against women and children.
She said it's significant that the 16 Days campaign includes the commemoration of World Aids Day on 1 December, as the prevalence of HIV and Aids among women aged between 15 and 49 remains high at 21.17% of the population, according to mid-2017 figures.
"These international days and campaigns need to refocus our attention as healthcare professionals on the real issues facing people in our country. These issues need critical medical and social intervention, and by adding our voices to the commemorations we are acknowledging that role, and committing ourselves to ensuring we provide care, counselling and comfort," Coetzee said.
She said effectively coping with HIV and Aids generally must also include dealing effectively with violence against women and children, as "one cannot support the one and forget about the other".
"SAMA encourages everyone to participate and become involved in the activities around the 16 Days campaign and HIV and Aids campaigns, including promoting healthy lifestyles, testing and screening for various conditions, as well as accessing treatment."
The 16 Days of Activism campaign, which ends on 10 December, aims to highlight violence against women and children. It also aims to mobilise all members of society to join hands with government and non-governmental organisations against women and child violence and abuse.
This year's campaign is being held under the theme '#HearMeToo: End Violence against Women and Children!'